Ode to a Raindrop


“Areas of Fog” (Etruscan Press, 2017) is a collection of short essays by South Shore writer Will Dowd that reflects upon the beauty of New England weather. Dowd earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, a master’s degree from MIT and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University. “Areas of Fog” is based on a journal Dowd kept, which recorded his observations about the local landscape. While most of the essays are set in Dowd’s hometown of Braintree, others reference nearby South Shore locations like Wollaston Beach in Quincy. The book was named a Massachusetts Book Awards Nonfiction “Must Read.”

The following excerpt is from one of Dowd’s essays about spring. For more information about the author, visit willdowd.net.



Spring brings a tear to my eye.

Here’s how it works:

A  few  thousand  feet  above  the  bovine  geometry  of Boston, a  water  molecule  combines  with  a  particle  of soot  released from a power plant in Salem, or perhaps with a spec of black carbon spat from a forest fire in the Berkshires, and then merges with other like-minded molecules within a fast-gliding cumulus to become a cloud droplet, which joins with millions of other cloud droplets, absorbing their pasts—this one ran down Hemingway’s glass of beer, this one glistened on a spiderweb in Raleigh’s cell, this one wet the sandals of a blind bard in Athens—and grows larger, and heavier, and falls, a raindrop the size of a housefly bearing a history of the world, for approximately six minutes before it lands on the glossy wing of a crow in flight, rolls off, lands on a blade of grass that dips under its new burden, strikes fresh soil and sinks, is displaced by an earthworm, is absorbed  by  the root  hairs of a cherry tree,  travels swiftly through xylem vessels and ends up (I’m saving you the indelicate details of germination here) within a pollen grain, where it lingers in the satiny heart of a cherry blossom until, one blustery May morning, it is borne on a breeze and finds at last, as if at the end of a long journey home, the lid of my eye.